More Jamaicans are better prepared to navigate the digital society and find new opportunities online thanks to the Flow Foundation. In collaboration with the Caribbean School of Data (CSOD) at the Mona School of Business & Management (MSBM), the Flow Foundation recently trained and graduated 131 students in the first cohort of its Skills for the Future programme.
The programme is an initiative by the communications and entertainment provider to drive digital literacy across Jamaica and has enrolled students aged 16 to 60 years old, indicating the desire for such a programme across a wide demographic.
The global pandemic has accelerated the need for digital literacy as key social behaviours have been transferred online. Executive Director of the Flow Foundation, Kayon Mitchell, pointed out that the organisation is focused on driving digital inclusion.
“Digital literacy will form the bedrock of successful economies in the future and today, we are taking a big step with this first batch of graduates in our Skills for the Future programme,” Mitchell stated. “We embarked on a journey to truly impact the lives of Jamaicans and build lifelong skills that would enable progress and enhance people’s livelihood and so the programme was created with the goal of ensuring that as many Jamaicans as possible would be able to take advantage of the many opportunities in the online space as well as participate in the digital economy.”
The graduation ceremony, though virtual, was a landmark moment for the graduates. Through testimonials and poetry, the participants exuded optimism about their new skills. Deron Hutchinson and Tricia Manning were recognized as the top male and female students, both averaging a 96.67 per cent score, while the Most Improved Student award went to Linzi Walker.
The keynote address was delivered by Senior Lecturer and Department Head in Computing at the UWI, Dr Gunjan Mansingh who shared that the growth of technology has reshaped how jobs are performed and that digital literacy makes persons more marketable for emerging career fields.
Gustavo Alvarado, Country Marketing Manager for Google Caribbean and Central America, said the Skills for the Future programme will help to close the gap between where the country is and where it needs to be.
“This programme is making great contributions to the country,” said Alvarado. “Digital breaks down barriers, businesses can sell beyond their country and get to know clients across the world. Not everyone has access to skills, so we are convinced that education is our way to fill the digital divide. Congrats to the graduates who are shaping our future.”
Dr Maurice McNaughton, Director, Centre for Innovation, Mona School of Business & Management, said the CSOD tapped into various stakeholders to design a programme suited to the real-time needs of the participants and the country.
Mitchell further added that the graduates can advance their learning through the Training for Professionals programme, offered in collaboration with One on One Educational Services, as well as explore opportunities on The Hive, a Caribbean-based website that connects employers with freelancers.
The Skills for the Future programme is part of a bigger initiative focused on empowering Jamaicans to confidently to navigate the new digital economy.